Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer led a hearing last month to discuss the importance of improving access to affordable childcare.
During the hearing Finkenauer, alongside several other members of the House Small Business Committee, introduced the Small Business Childcare Investment Act. The new legislation would allow non-profit child care providers to have the same access to Small Business Administration financing that for-profit providers have.
“Access to quality and affordable child care is a critical need all over my district and our state,” Finkenauer said in a statement. “We must keep working to improve every tool available to increase access. Too many Iowa parents are forced to make the choice to hold back their careers – and their family’s economic opportunity – simply because there is no space left at the child care centers in their community.”
Low unemployment rates can be great for the economy and improve a family’s bottom line, it can also bring its own challenges–one of which is childcare. According to local reports, more than 700,000 Iowans live in a child care desert, which the Center for American Progress defines as any census area with more than 50 children under the age of five that has either no child care providers or so few options that there are three times as many children as licensed child care slots.
To make matters worse, child care is often very expensive. According to a study conducted by United Ways of Iowa, an average family of four would need to spend more on childcare than they would on rent. They also found the average cost of monthly childcare ranged from about $850 to well over $1,000 per month. To put things in perspective, the same family is estimated to need about $659 to cover basic housing needs.
“Child care is a critical issue for families, and seeing Congress support families in such a positive way is great and shows our government is working for us. And it also is a significant component of economic drivers in our State of Iowa, and our small towns in rural Iowa in particular,” said Dan Levi, who serves as the co-chair for the Black Hawk County Child Care Coalition in Iowa, in a statement.